Coconut, a specialty of Ben Tre (Photo: VNA)

Ben Tre (VNA) – Calling for investment in agriculture to optimise the potential and strengths of the locality is a priority of the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, said Cao Van Trong, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee at a conference promoting investment to the sector on September 18.

At the event, which drew some 350 enterprises, Trong noted that Ben Tre holds great advantages in agriculture with over 80,000ha of coconut trees and more than 28,000ha of specialty fruit farms.

Furthermore, the province also has nearly 47,000 hectares of aquatic farms, the provincial leader added.

He said that over the past few years, Ben Tre has applied various supporting policies to encourage investment in agriculture and rural areas. It has assisted six firms in the field with 32.64 billion VND, noted Trong.

He clarified that Ben Tre has 451 enterprises in agriculture, accounting for 17 percent of total businesses operating in the locality, with total capital equivalent to 30 percent of total registered investment in the province.

In the first eight months of 2018, export revenue of agricultural firms reached 215 million USD.

So far, the province has sold its farm produce to 70 countries and territories. It has lured 24 foreign invested projects in agriculture with a combined investment of 225.7 million USD, making up 26 percent of total FDI in the locality.

At the conference, local firms voiced their pros and cons regarding investment in Ben Tre, mostly in accessing bank loans, land rent, and connectivity with local farmers to build value chains and develop material regions.

Bui Duong Thuat, head of the Mekong fruit import-export company, held that it is necessary to reduce the intermediary stages to increase profits for both farmers and enterprises.

Chairman Trong said that Ben Tre aims to become a centre for technological research and transfer to serve farmers and enterprises, while also focusing on processing projects with high added-value from coconut and aquatic products and fruits for export. It wants to become a hub for producing, buying, and distributing farm produce in the region.

Director of the provincial Department of Planning and Investment Nguyen Minh Canh affirmed that in the future, Ben Tre will continue improving its business environment and developing support services, as well as assisting investors.

The province will also encourage projects that are environmentally-friendly and offer preferential credit for startup firms in agriculture and rural areas, he added. –VNA